Some Ingredients For A Successful Recipe For A Modern Relationship.

With the Internet’s many open platforms solely designed for communication, there is hardly anything anyone can do or say that is not stored in a data bank hidden within the bat cave and more than likely forever. Information shared, no matter how innocent that person may believe it is, can be very simply taken out of context in another situation, even innocently. I believe couples who respect each other’s vulnerable secrets keep those between them. The very principle and honouring of individual boundaries between two people will result in an everlasting trust that can be relied upon for life. It is potentially, and in most cases humiliating and from experience incredibly damaging if one partner finds out that the other has told someone something that is private and ends up being leaked out to a wider audience for which that information was not intended. That is a massive problem when the person betrayed finds out about it at some later stage.
I find it difficult to share my emotions or thoughts with people. I suppose I am fearful that what I say will be heard incorrectly or used against me, thus I tend to keep those feelings tightly locked up inside. This is possible one of my biggest faults. Couples who acknowledge and embrace the fact that they can only fix and heal what they can see, will be better placed to face whatever distress, hurt and pain they might have at any time. Ignoring or avoiding issues is more likely to result in bigger problems down the road.
In any intimate relationship that I have experienced, the one thing I have noticed, now that I reflect is that as a couple we rarely have exactly the same needs at any given time, or feel exactly the same intensity when they occurred. Whether it was about sexual frequency, social preferences, external family obligations, distribution of assets, personal availability, or external unshared interests. With this in mind the real secret is to understand you don’t always get what you want but you must commit to being fair, compromise and negotiate the differences and do not invalidate your partners desires. 

Every couple must share a parallel commitment to the same basic values that are unique to their relationship. Knowing that you will change, especially with age you must keep those beliefs up to date, and share openly. Without discussing first you can be sure down the line that there will be negative surprises and the feeling of exclusion for your loved one. Let’s face it we often disagree about how to go about expressing those agreements. Thus communicating any change is the glue to maintaining a successful relationship. 

We all argue and feel hurt and anger when we can’t seem to satisfy our partner without giving something up that we want to hold on to. But, even in the midst of the most difficult moments, any resentments need to be replaced with compassion and support. That underlying support must be guaranteed, and it will grow stronger each time it is called upon.
All of us are self-centred and self-promoting at times and all behaviours are driven by a combination of altruism and selfishness at any one time. But I believe if you trust your partners basic self, know that the underlying commitment to care for the other is always underneath and available. The key is to be comfortable knowing that you know that you can ask for the sacrificing of those behaviours if you are in trouble. It is very easy to fall apart when stresses get on top of you and resources diminish. Sympathy and compassion is needed most during this time and one must be able to lean on each other’s strengths. I feel there must be an expectation that both people stay as strong as they can, but if either folds, the other is there to carry the load.

So many relationships end because one person thinks that the other isn’t trying as hard as they could to make things better. It is important to remember that tomorrow is a fantasy and that security is an illusion. When you part each time there is always the possibility that it may be the last but when you return there is a sense of gratitude.

My Journey To Finding My Birth Mum. I’m Adopted. Part One.

I struggled with fears that I would be disloyal to my parents if I was to search for my biological parents. My parents never hid the truth about me being adopted. They didn’t have a whole pile of information but what they knew they told me. I never thought that my parents would fear the fact that one day I would hunt down my natural parents and leave them. I did search for my biological parents and I was never going to swap over my loyalty and feelings I had/have for my real parents. My Mum and Dad had brought me up and loved me unconditionally. My reason for searching was, I was lucky enough to start my own family and was for the first time worried that I did not have historic medical information. If there was any underlining problems I should be aware of? I never really wondered how my parents would feel/react about any interest I would have, with my search for my birth parents. They had asked if I had any desire to locate them but I had always said no. I knew when I eventually decided to try and find them the emotions would be painful and difficult so I did not to tell them of my intentions.

Of course not every adopted person will express an interest to locate their birth family. Some of us become aware that most adoptions occur due to financial and/or emotional reasons. In my case my biological mother was 16 when she became pregnant with me and 17 when I was born. Her family were staunch right winged catholics so having me out of wedlock was not an option. Ironically I learned that my biological grandfather had an affair and a daughter from that relationship exists. Do as I say not as I do!

I was adopted in England so my search began with the little info I had. I was able to track down the institute I was adopted from easily and from there I phoned and was put through to a wonderful nun, Sister Austin. If there are such things as angels she is definitely one. We spoke over the phone and I sent off the documentation I had and from there my journey began. The next step was to travel over to Bristol, have an interview and a psych evaluation. It was explained to me that she may be dead or have no interest in meeting me or they just might not be able to locate her. They were able to give me some information on both of my biological parents which I was able to take away. 

This was very strange, as I was in my thirties and I was looking at something a child wrote whom happened to be my birth mother. It made me very emotional and filled me with sorrow. I’m not sure if it was a connection or just the fact I had a 2 year old daughter at home and wanted to protect her and be there for her, no matter what. I have 2 daughters now and I honestly believe this process inspired me to make a lot of changes. Since 2008 I have been front and centre in the upbringing of my girls. In 2013 my marriage ended and I am lucky enough to have 50% custody of my girls. My eldest has no real need for Dad and no matter how cool I think I am, well I’m not. My youngest is very close to having no real need for me except for guidance. In years to come I look forward to hearing whether I did a good job or if I was a complete fail. There really is no way of telling and I wonder if my adoption or experiences in boarding school equipped me with the right tools. Time will tell.

I received a call from Sister Austin and they had found her and she was interested to make contact with me. I was full of mixed emotions, the main one guilt. Had I let my parents down? They had done everything for me and more. Should I just call everything off? I had come this far and I thought back to a young 17 year old girl having to give her baby up. I decided to keep going. As long as my parents never found out, nobody would get hurt!

My wife thought I should be upfront and come clean. I explained my mother would be hurt and I could not do that to her and me. This conversation went on for a long time and in the end I was frank with my decision that I did not want my parents knowing. My wife and I were at opposites for this decision, but I believed it was mine to make.

Being Adopted, The Teenage Years!

From conception we develop physically from top to bottom, but really this self development takes place during our school years and we certainly are very aware of it and I was self-conscious of it. Our head, body then legs then feet, fingers and toes grow. Our muscles develop and we can run, hop, jump, catch, carry and even climb. As a child I was kept very busy outside of school and involved in all sports and I believe this helped a lot in my own development and certainly in trying to understand and master the world I was living in. Naturally accidents and failure were a regular feature but this all aided me in the art of problem solving. Divorce was not a thing in Ireland when I was growing up so I was aware that all my friends lived with their biological parents and I understood what adoption meant. This is when I saw a difference between me and my friends.

Essentially at this time I struggled with the meaning of being adopted, felt sad and even a bit lost. I wondered was there something wrong me and why wasn’t I wanted? These emotions had nothing to do with my parents they were always there for me just as a Mum and Dad should be. But it did not stop me from thinking why would my birth Mother give me away? Looking back I probably felt abandoned and was angry. This might explain some of my behaviour especially when playing sports. Loosing was not an option and I was motivated. From the age of 14 I became very self aware and I remember I had told someone in school that I was adopted and had sworn him to secrecy. However for some reason he told the other kids and I ended up breaking a chair on him. Safe to say that was the end of the friendship and my parents were called in to the school to give an explanation and they stood by me. I day dreamed a lot, a hell of a lot trying to figure out and work through my identity issues and worried that my Mum and Dad would take off and leave me. I never asked for reassurance, I was in boarding school so I had to sort these emotions out on my own.

I don’t make friends easily and probable have a lot of trust issues. My first profession was in Hotel Management and I learned how to pretend, I was on stage. Put a suit on and I could pretend to be anyone and I am really good at it. I would get home after a long day at work and collapse into the comfort of myself. I continually questioned what people thought of me and often socially would leave in the middle of a party. I am sure I lost friends over this as they thought I was weird or just did not care but the reality was I was exhausted pretending not to be me.

I am convinced I have a mild form of dyslexia but have never got tested, I do tick most of the boxes, Google is a great tool for self diagnosing. One of my closest friends swears I am on the borderline of autism, Google agrees but again I was never diagnosed. The one thing I definitely was, was hyper to the point of manic. School was tough, I had the concentration span of a goldfish and needed to hear things being repeated which never happened so I lost out and most of my teachers lost interest in me. I found it hard in school and this in turn led to this stage of my life, difficult and confusing.

During my teenage years I did wonder about my genetic history and thought how different life might be if I hadn’t been adopted, would there be similarities or what differences would exist? Where did I belong and where would I be? All of these feelings I kept to myself, my private thoughts.

Of course this is my story and each adoptive child differs throughout their childhood developmental stage. Adopted children view adoption differently but our emotions are very real and live on with us.

Being Adopted, The Early Years

I think I was adopted at about 6 weeks of age, so it is safe to say I have absolutely no memory of it. For me my adoptive parents have always been Mum and Dad, and I have been extremely lucky to have been loved all of my life. My parents worked hard to give me every opportunity in life and have supported me through my up’s and downs. I understand now how hard it is to be a parent but I also know what unconditional love is and that is the best reward life can give you.

Time and experience in life gives me great hindsight and at the tender age of 51, I know who I am and for once I own my identity and like me. It has taken me this long to see myself and be comfortable and even at times like what I see. In many respects being adopted as an infant led to me being affected by adoption all my life. I experienced issues of attachment, self-image and loss. Of course this is just my experience and my thoughts and my Mum and Dad were wonderful. These emotions I never spoke of and reflecting back may explain some of my behaviour. I remember being told I was adopted and I think I was around  5 years of age. I was confused but understood and remember trying to work things out in my mind and come to terms with having birth parents and adopted parents and somehow try to marry them together.

I would imagine children who are adopted later on in life have a very different experience and come to terms with it at a different stage of their developmental life. I have never understood why I grieved the loss of my biological parents after all I didn’t know them and I have fantastic parents. But I did. Transracial, cross-cultural and special needs issues will also affect a Childs adoption experience. To explain what I mean is some time ago I met my biological Mother and she was disappointed to learn I was Irish. There are no words to describe what flashed trough my mind as I listened to that comment. Mum and Dad brought me up well and I always open my door, mind and heart to any human no matter who or where they come from. They can be pink or blue, rich or poor a human is a human!

I have been lucky enough to work with children in a professional capacity and it was the best job I have had to date and has motivated me to write about my life experiences. As a child you will attach yourself to and bond with the primary caregiver. The temperament and the atmosphere of the home will affect how the child integrates and adjusts. Then the preschool age, my favourite age. My imagination ran away with me, cowboys were al the rage and even the odd superhero. What a fantasy! I didn’t understand how children were made but my mum somehow explained to me in such a way that I understood another lady gave birth to me and it was the same way as any other child was born just she didn’t give birth to me. I had no concept of time or space but knew mum was mum and another lady gave birth to me. I was good go and time to jump back on my horse and catch the baddies. I am sure this opened the door for my parents to introduce the language of adoption and start the story of my journey. It was this opens on my parents part that lead to a degree of comfort about talking about my adoption.

Children, The Web And Social Media.

Our Teens the battle of the web and social media:

The bell rings and the school day finishes. The pupils grab their bags and dash for the door. School bags slung on to their backs and a race for the exit to freedom. Suddenly the cackling of teenage voices is overpowered by beeps and ringtones. Heads drop to the mobile devise screen and fingers work furiously typing out life or death communications, the world might be coming to an end. Phones are lifted and pictures are recorded as proof and uploaded and sent to the command centre. I watch in awe as I am bewildered how this new form of human can cross the road with their head down and miraculously, the various methods of transport manage to stop or swerve and no fatalities are reported.

Dr Seuss, author of The Cat in The Hat
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Of course our teens love to go online, I wish it had been invented when I was in secondary school. The Internet is a source of information and can be used as an educational tool. The social media tools can be an asset to maintain and develop supportive relationships. They can help our teens to form their identities, through self-expression, learning and communicating. When utilised correctly they promote a sense of belonging and self-esteem. Most of us adults know how to behave in society, what is right/wrong, acceptable or not? We are generally good citizens and neighbours and so are our teens! Unfortunately those standards slip when we become digital citizens!

Zeeko ( an Irish EdTech start-up which works to educate parents to teach their children to stay safe online has published results of its second School Digital Trend Report. 4,439 primary school pupils completed a questionnaire about their Internet use in 29 schools between September and November 2016. In addition Zeeko asked 913 guardians of primary school pupils in 55 schools between January and June 2016 to complete a similar questionnaire.

Key findings include the extensive use of mobile devices by primary school children, (86% have access to a smart phone, tablet or iPod); the seemingly younger ages at which children say they have open access to the internet (on average 1st class students first went online at 4.9 years old vs. 6th class students first went online at 7.6 years old); and the rise of SnapChat which has taken over Instagram as the most popular social media app with 45% of 6th class pupils now using SnapChat.

 There is a difference between using the Internet and using social media. The Internet can provide a platform of lots of educational tools to assist our children’s learning needs. Yes there is a vast amount of inappropriate material available on the web but thankfully there are tools provided for us to implement to ensure our child never has to see those dark pages. As parents or guardians it is our responsibility to implement those safe guards to protect our youngsters. Social media is a different animal. Essentially the concept is excellent and when utilised for the way in which it was intended it can and is a very positive and beneficial experience.

There are social media sites that ask for the users to be thirteen and over, much the same as your child’s email account set up from school. Be warned if you misrepresent your child’s age online consider the possible implications of this. If your child sees you lying online they may well feel they are entitled to lie if there is an age restriction on another site they would like to join.

Oscar Wilde
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

The key to building and maintaining a positive relationship with our teenagers is to always keep the channels of communication open. This is different to the lectures or talks we give our teens. I mean really connect and when it matters, the ability to relate to them in day-to-day life. This will help you and your teen to overcome the challenges they face growing up.

It is so easy with teens to get locked into unhelpful methods of communicating, arguing, nagging and even criticising. Once engaged in either of those it is very difficult to get out. Remember teenagers still need our guidance and advise not forgetting the boundaries, which have been set during their first decade. Tactics are key to success regardless if you are dealing with an authority adverse teen or a respectful teen. Our teen still needs to know we are interested but watchful, that we care and have their back even when we don’t agree with them. As parents we must develop the skill and emotional resilience to continue offering guidance and help even in the face of Indifference and opposition.

Am I A Good Parent? My Pandemic Reflection.

I never questioned my parenting skills or faults before now. The pandemic has forced me to reflect on a lot of things but none more than am I a good parent? I’m extremely lucky with my girls, they definitely make the job easier. Sure, there have been times when I have wanted to put my head under a pillow and scream until I was hoarse. There has also been occasion when one or both girls have disappeared to their bedrooms to hide from me or just simply take refuge. Trying to school the children, keep them motivated, occupy them, engage them, feed them, keep them safe, cook for the them entertain them, maintain the home etc has pushed me to limits I did not know existed. The dog (Murf) has even gone backwards in the last few months following me everywhere looking for a bit of my attention.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” –Anne Frank

Parent guilt does exist. Before coronavirus, I only worried about building my career, creating a balance and managing the day to day “stuff” of the home while raising my daughters. Let’s be honest that can be stressful enough, whether you are a single parent or not, and then by the time you get home you are riddled with guilt as you feel you are neglecting your children. Just because you feel it does not mean it is true!

Children are for life, I know we all thought they would reach 18 and job done, now time for me. Pop the champagne, we have our lives back, eh no! We cannot divorce them and we just do not wake up on their 18th birthday, open the front door and wave goodbye as we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on a job very well done. The worry that we carry for our little darlings never goes away. I can’t always be there for my kids, and if they fall they have to learn to get back up themselves. The real world has a lot of disappointment and inconveniences along the journey of life. But I will always be there to talk, listen and offer advice, should they need it. If it is a simple Dad hug that is needed, well they never run out and I would travel the world to serve upon my Dad hugs.

I can see so many of my traits in my girls, even a few of the not so good ones! What Covad-19 has made me see is that they really have their own identity and that identity is developing every day. They both are very passionate about different things and I support that, even when I don’t really understand it, but that is mainly because I am Dad and fake tan, hair colouring etc are alien to me, but I embrace it all. I must be doing something right as on occasion my advice has been sought, this alway overwhelms me with fear as the wrong answer can have disastrous affects.

Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have pushed us as a family into doing things together often that we may not have done due to other family commitments. Going for bike rides around the city is one such activity. I would have always travelled to go for a cycle with the girls, somewhere with less traffic but for a large part of 2020 we have been in lockdown which has meant it is city centre for exercise. Being a typical overacting father, I had in my mind we would get ploughed by a double decker bus, die or at the very least end up in a wheelchair and it would all be my fault. We headed off with Daddy duck in front and is two ducklings behind him. Thank goodness I did not give the lecture that I had planned. They took safety very seriously and in the end they were probable more cautious than I was. My point is keeping our children safe is a job we all take seriously, and at times I thought my advice was going straight in one ear and out the other, the reality was it had not and they had learned from the previous excursions.

“When a man dies, if he can pass enthusiasm along to his children, he has left them an estate of incalculable value.” –Thomas Edison

I have one regret in life and that is smoking. When my eldest was about 7 she came home from school and said, “Daddy if you don’t stop smoking you will die and I will have no Daddy.” I love smoking and was excellent at it, 30 a day was a minimum and everyone was as good as the last. My daughter was and is right and I did quit and to this day not only did it help me to live longer, it enabled me to set a good example. More so than ever I have learned my kids pay attention to what I do, how I behave and what I say. I try desperately hard to be a good role model and it is extremely tough when you are a single Dad, trust me it is not like the movies, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan endings are not here.

I have written before about the importance of family dinners and it is the perfect opportunity to get some quality time together without modern distractions. I love hearing about their day, the good, the bad and the ugly and we get to talk about everything and as they get older we even have some heated debates as they form their own identities and beliefs. 

Recently I have heard some pretty hurtful stuff from my kids. Immediately I thought I was failing as a parent. It isn’t a failure, I’m not my daughters friend, I am the parent and they need me to be. I’ve learned to stand my ground and set boundaries and unfortunately on occasion enforced consequences. This is the part of parenting I dislike the most, being unpopular, but as a parent I have an obligation to teach my children and how are they to learn about the values our family strive for? I hope one day to hear my children instruct their children on our values and I suppose then a piece of me will live on.

To see my kids clearly, I have looked at my own past. How was I treated in the family, how was I seen? For example, was I seen as a burden? Do I see my kids as the same and feel put out by them? Do I over worry about them and smother them? Overcompensate for them by doing too much? I love my children and they do stir a curiosity within me. Most of all they make me feel happy and very grateful. I love spending time observing their little quirks, I appreciate how they express themselves and I love how they make me laugh. 

Understanding My Teenager And Communicating With Her.

There exists huge amounts of social pressure on teens today and the opinions of their friends become extremely important. But they still need help and support to build and maintain healthy friendships. I cannot stress the importance of developing a good parent teen relationship, staying connected and especially paying attention to them. Continuing to be a role model, the person they look up to a reliable parent. I am not suggesting becoming their friend just remaining their parent.

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”
Arnold H. Glasow

Friendships are a necessary support group for teenagers. They provide a sense belonging and a feeling of value which in turn assists in building confidence. Teens will not always ask parents for information as in some cases they may find it all too embarrassing, for example puberty and what they are experiencing physically and emotionally. Friendships are a good source of information and provide emotional support a sense of security and comfort with others going through the same experiences. For many teens the teen years is where they develop relationships with the opposite sex and romantic and sexual relationships are experienced.

As the transision from child to teen begins it is very normal for teenagers to spend more time alone and with their friends. Essentially this translates to them spending less time with family. Many parents fret about this and fear these intense friendships will become more valuable than the family unit. This is not unusual and if you cast your mamory back and are honest with yourself your behaviour was the same.

Fear not your child, now a teen, still needs you and as they get older and mature you may even need them and who knows they may offer you support. As parents it is important to encourage friendship amoung teens, but it is also very important to know who your teen is friends with and have open conversations about the different relationships with your teen. Encourage your son or daughter to be a good friend there are a few ways that this can be done and the life long benefit is that it will stand to your child for future years in how they develop relationships.

Sometimes young people do not realise that all friendships are not forever. People change over their lifetime and friends that your child is close to now, might not be the friendships they have in years to come. The occasional fallout between friends is natural. Help them navigate through conflict. Show respect to others and they should be respectful to you!

“I tell my child, if I seem obsessed to always know where you’ve been, it is because my DNA will be found at the scene.”
Robert Brault

As a parent there is nothing worse then making the tough decisions and suddenly becoming the “bad person”. Perhaps being told how much they hate you and how you are ruining their life and followed of by the slamming of doors and then to top it off, picture without sound. It is not our job to be our child’s friend. Our job is far more complicated than that. Children and especially adolescents need limits they crave boundaries and structure. And as teenagers they most definitely need a healthy separation from their parents. Our job is to teach our children and when and they will disobey dish out consequences. If you become their friend it is impossible to lay down the law and be respected by your teen. If you have treated your teen as a friend you will create confusion and they will believe that their power is equal to yours.

As our children grow up they strive to learn where they fit in and what is their place in the world, it is our job to guide and give them the time and space to grow into each phase developing to the next stage. Treating them as a peer/friend will not allow them to be kids.

We Have A Responsibility To Feed Our Children Healthily!

“Child hunger and child obesity are really just two sides of the same coin. Both rob our children of the energy, the strength and the stamina they need to succeed in school and in life. And that, in turn, robs our country of so much of their promise.” Michelle Obama

We are living in a time where we just don’t have enough time. People are rushed. They’re over worked, over scheduled. Not enough resources. …But the thing that I want people to understand in this campaign is that families can make small manageable changes in their lives that can have pretty significant impacts.
Michelle Obama

A research, published in The Lancet medical journal, pulled together data from 31.5 million children and teenagers aged five to 19 who took part in more than 2,000 studies. It discovered that universally, the estimated number of obese children and teenagers had risen 10-fold in the previous four decades.

Between 1975 and 2016 the number of obese boys in the world increased from six million to 74 million, while a similar trend for girls exhibited a growth from five to 50 million. Girls in Ireland ranked 79th globally for obesity, while boys ranked 98th. Though obesity in adults is measured simply using Body Mass Index (BMI), identifying it in children is more complex. The study authors used a WHO statistical method that looks at levels of deviation from a “normal” average. Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors.  

In most cases surplus weight is due to overeating and under-exercising. Children need extra calories to fuel their growth and development; if they have taken in the appropriate amount of calories, they should add pounds in proportion to their growth. But if they consume more calories than they’re burning off, the result will be unnecessary weight gain. Childhood obesity is almost always a result of a number of factors working together to increase risk.  These include:

Diet: Regular eating of high-calorie foods, such as takeout food, biscuits and other baked goods; fizzy minerals, sweets and crisps contribute to weight gain. Snacking is another large culprit. 

Absence of physical activity: Computers, mobile phone, tablets, television, and video games collaborate to keep children inside and inactive. This means they burn fewer calories and are more likely to put on weight. Worries about the safety of playing outside and a dependence on cars instead of walking does not help either. 

Environment: If a child opens up the fridge or kitchen cabinets and is greeted by bags of crisps, chocolate, etc., then that’s likely what they will eat. Equally, if you keep your fridge stocked instead with healthy and tasty cut-up fruits and veggies (berries, carrots, red pepper strips) low-fat yogurt and higher-fibre granola bars, then they will go for the healthier food (rather than eat nothing at all). 

Psychological factors: Like adults, some children may turn to food as a coping mechanism for dealing with problems, like stress, anxiety, or boredom.  Children struggling to cope with a divorce or a death in the family may eat more than usual as a result.

Genetics: Some children are born into a family where obesity already exists, they then may be genetically predisposed to the condition, particularly if high-calorie food is readily available and physical activity is not promoted.

A fat man is never so happy as when he is describing himself as “robust.
George Orwell

Socioeconomic factors:  Parents may lack the time, skill and resources necessary to purchase/prepare healthy foods as fast foods are becoming cheaper and more readily available. 

Medical conditions: Although not widespread, there are certain genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can affect a child and cause obesity, such as hypothyroidism,Prader-Willi syndrome, cardiovascular disease insulin resistance, which is often a sign of impending diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even sone cancers such as colon, breast and endometrial.

The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.

Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

My Rant On Bad Manners And The End Of Respect.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It all boils down to respect, consideration and honesty. It’s that simple. Am I a dinosaur an extinct form of mankind, the kind that still opens a door for a lady, walks on the outside of a path, respectful of our elderly, uses my mobile phone in a manner that is not rude in the company of others. I believe social media in general is a positive attribute to society but I do not use it as a platform to ram my opinion onto others, I do not feel it necessary to be unkind and hide behind a screen to voice my dislike for one of my 1200 friends of which I probably know only 200 and my real friends are 10% of that figure. No, if I find myself in a position of unhappiness I will discuss it face to face or if they are toxic walk away from them. There is a very fine line between extreme rudeness and harassment and bullying. Actually we have invented new sayings for acts of bullying and harassment, one such saying is “road rage”.

The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.
George Bernard Shaw

I am not a right winged misogynist desperately stuck in the 1920s. I have just noticed as a society nobody checks himself or herself and thinks, it just comes straight out of their mouths without care or consideration. Bad manners are now the norm. My earliest memory of witnessing behaviour, which I knew was not right and should be not accepted, was watching American tennis star John McEnroe and his outburst on the tennis court and his complete disrespect for opponents, spectators, and television viewers. I wonder what was going through Bjorn Borg head. It is hard to believe he was allowed get away with it and let continue to compete and become a role model for youngsters. TV chef Gordon Ramsey is another personality that has managed to earn a career out of rudeness. What kind of example are we setting for our children if this behaviour is acceptable and even promoted?

Contempt for authority is endemic, aggressive citizens roam the streets at night in a competition to see who is the most obnoxious and has no respect for public or private property. It is “mine” and “I will take” or just destroy. The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C have not surprisingly confirmed that playing violent video games can link to aggressive behaviour. The games, they say, are one way in which children are exposed to aggressive actions over examples of empathic and sociable behaviour, and that it is an “accumulation” of such factors that are likely to influence behaviour.

“The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression,”

As I follow the daily media commentary with reference to “Brexit” it disturbingly reminds me of divorce. I feel sorry for the children stuck in the middle, no fault of their own as each side accuses one another with elevated voices trying to impose their point of view criticising the other person, exaggerating their short comings in a competition to see who is the rudest. The child being dragged into a war of words a choosing of sides and even though they don’t know nor understand what they are arguing about they are excepted to come to a conclusion. There is and will never be any winners, no victory laps just collateral damage and a broken family. Children left believing what they have witnessed and experienced is acceptable behaviour.

Is it too mush to expect people to cover their mouths when sneezing, refrain from spitting or even stand up when greeting a fellow human with an outstretched hand to shake? It is such a shame little value is held with regard to experience otherwise we might listen and hear what our elderly have to say.

Cultures vary their greetings, clothing, expectations about how children should behave, numbers of husbands or wives, beliefs in god, gods. People celebrate but also go to war about these differences.  I have had enough of bad manners and believe and expect that good manners are timeless and I hope they will become fashionable once again and sooner rather than later. As parents we have a responsibility to our children and society to consistently educate them in good manners and when you receive bad manners never lower your standards. Other role models such as teachers, celebrities, politicians, world leaders and those who are responsible for online social media have a huge part to play to ensure our values of civilities does not vanish for good.

Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people’s bad manners.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr

In the meantime we as parents must not fail or children and society and educate our children how to act in public, how to care and how to be polite? Ignorance cannot be accepted as an excuse nor alcohol or drugs. Just because the world is a busy place is not an excuse not to say “please” or “thank you”.

“It’s a pity so many of us persist in regarding politeness as being merely a superficial social grace instead of what it really is, namely one of the necessities of life. Quite apart from politeness for its own sake, and as a matter of plain justice, it is invaluable as a sort of cushion or buffer to hold off the jolt that would otherwise disrupt the harmony of things.” Zealandia.

Children Living With Peer Pressure.

Wanting to be more like your friends is a normal part of being a teenager. Peer influence or peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it might be a concern for you or your child. If this happens, there are things you can do to help manage it. Peer pressure is when you choose to do something you would not otherwise do, because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friends. It isn’t just or always about doing something against your will. 

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
― Bruce Lee

The term ‘peer pressure’ is used a lot. But peer ‘influence’ is a better way to explain how teenager’s behaviour is formed by wanting to feel they belong to a band of friends or peers. Peer pressure or influence is not all negative it can be very positive. Your son or daughter may be influenced to become more self-confident, try new pursuits, or become more involved with schoolwork and activities. But it can also have the opposite effect and be negative too. Some teenagers might choose to try things they typically would not be interested in, such as smoking/drinking or taking part in other antisocial behaviour.

Normally it is just the simple things such as listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows, wearing the same clothes and even inventing their own language to communicate although this often sound alien as it is imported from the US. Coping with peer pressure is all about getting the balance right of your values and that of fitting in with the group.

Unfortunately it is a fact of life that peer pressure may present more negative influences on children who feel they do not have many friends or struggle with self-confidence. These adolescents may feel the only way to be included/accepted is to take on and consent to the behaviour of a particular group.

Of course as a parent this will cause concern and you become worried that your teen is being too influenced by their peers and not being guided by the values you instilled in them. Another reason for worry may be that you feel your child will not be able to say no when it matters and behaviours could lead to antisocial behaviour. If you cast your mind back to when you were the same age and experiencing peer pressure you may remember on occasion you did things that your friends did and sometimes you choose not to engage in some of the other activities your peers got involved in. The same will be for your child. You have given your child the tools to cope and a strong set of values so it is more likely they will know where to draw the line and exclude themselves from the company of their friends if their behaviour is becoming unacceptable.

“Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of reality is not your reality.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Some good tips to help you and your child manage peer pressure include:

  • ïKeep the lines of communication open.
  • ïAdvises your child, suggest ways they can say no if they feel they are being pressured into something they are uncomfortable with.
  • ïExplain there is always a way out, they can phone or text you. Assure them you will not be annoyed. If necessary invent a safe code they can send you so you will come to the rescue immediately.
  • ïAssist your child in building up their self-confidence this will encourage them and give them the tools to be comfortable in making their own decisions.
  • ïThe wider your child’s social network is the better, encourage them to get involved in activities they are interested in and support them.

Without a doubt good communication and a healthy positive relationship with your child will forever encourage them to communicate with you and help them with deflecting any unwanted negative influences/pressures from peers.